Answers on OSINT for India 29 – Case Studies, Persuading a Station Head to Use OSINT



Do you have any case study on some OSINT op? How does one persuade a Station Head to use OSINT in support of his  clandestine and technical operations? I am finding that there is more information about secret successes than there is about OSINT successes at the same time that OSINT was eclipsed by the “false God” of the Internet pretending to be OSINT.

Dear Colleague,

Mindful of the fact that all INTs are information, not intelligence, except when a specific answer is created for a specific decider (hence, decision-support),  there are some very well-known but largely censored OSINT success stories.

Everything produced by contractors and intelligence agencies in the OSINT arena is generic information, not intelligence.

The most famous example of a direct competition between OSINT and the secret world is the Burundi Exercise in which I personally defeated the entire US intelligence community on the topic of Burundi with six telephone calls. I tell that story

Answers on OSINT for India 13 – The Burundi Exercise

The other case studies known to me are from the Special Operations Command (Ben Harrison), Dutch military intelligence (Arno Reuser), Scotland Yard (Steve Edwards), and RCMP (Lori Schnittker). Most cannot be discussed but here are a few generic success studies:

  • 100X increase in confiscation of illicit wealth by Scotland Yard
  • Arab terrorist submarine identified in the shipyard ready for delivery
  • Hours saved in counterintelligence vetting of sources using open sources
  • Russian military maps, overnight, for a  SOF denied area crossing
  • Russian tank specifications in detail via a commercial source
  • S&T overviews for micro-UAVs, smart dust, other topics
  • Terrorist, insurgent, opposition websites in 29 languages (CIA could not do)

My most famous sound-bit in the 1990’s was “do not send a spy where a schoolboy can go.”

Sadly, I failed to persuade CIA — starting with the Latin America Division in the Directorate of Operations — that it should have an OSINT Cell in every clandestine division and an OSINT cell in every Station overseas. They simply refuse to be professional about their mission, which is to answer questions by any means necessary.

The clandestine human intelligence cycle consists of spotting, assessing, recruiting, handling, and when necessary terminating graciously to avoid blowback.

SPOTTING: OSINT excels at mapping contacts and research areas to plan clandestine approaches to specific individuals;

ASSESSING: OSINT excels at both background investigation of individuals being targetted for recruitment (or disruptive destruction), and at evaluating relative potential of individuals with different forms of access.

HANDLING: OSINT has been found very helpful in both plain intelligence and in counterintelligence as a means of vetting people — checking their claimed history and recollection against publicly available sources.

OSINT provides a contextual foundation and a means of satisfying requirements that are important but do not need nor warrant risky expensive means of secret collection. The Special Operations Command under General Peter Schoomaker understood this — under Ben Harrison’s leadership J-26 answered 40% of all SOF requirement world-wide for under $5 million a year with 22 people.  Below is the graphic that won General Schoomaker’s interest:

Click on Image to Enlarge

I used to know Oleg Kalugin, a MajGen in the Russian KGB, then a member of the Russian Parliament, and for the last several decades resettled in the USA. In his book The First Directorate – My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West, General Kalugin wrote to both the utility of OSINT to the KGB, and to their pretending OSINT was acquired by Top Secret means as part of meeting their mission objectives for the Center.

The proof is in the doing. I will end my answer to your question by again pointing to the conclusion of BGen Dr. James Cox, RN CA (Ret) who got NATO to listen to me (briefly) and sponsored the NATO OSINT series in his capacity as Deputy J-2 NATO.

2013 BGen James Cox, CA (Ret) On the Record on Open Source Information versus Open Source Intelligence versus Secret Intelligence

Any Station Head (in our terms Station Chief) that does not have an OSINT Cell in support of their clandestine and technical operations is in my view operating at 50% of capacity.

My must current work on where I wish to go is below.

Smart Nation Vision – By Invitation


Answers on OSINT for India

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